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Everything posted by betoulle

  1. [quote user="Thebiga"] We do not take a breakage deposit because unless you bank the cheque its not worth anything as a deposit is it. Well when it comes to doing taxes etc at that time of year it can look very funny to some french jobsworth that you may have taken more money than you have said you have. This could open up a whole can of worms really. They can see that the money has come in and that you have then sent out cheques for the same amount, It could even look like money laundering could it not. We don't take any breakage deposit because of the problems it may cause down the line, its bad enough having the everyday RSI hassles etc without other ones aswell. .[/quote] ALWAYS bank the deposit cheque & then issue a refund - in 7 years we have never had a problem with our accountants about security deposits....all the gite owners I know take one - French as well as English....think you will find it is the norm & quite frankly you are opening yourselves up to abuse if you dont take a security deposit.  Have only had to retain part of a deposit 3 times & in each case our £150/wk was not enough to repair the damage, but at least we had something towards the costs.
  2. For me Magimix is the very best - have been using them now for over 30years - am now on my second machine.......the motor lasts for ever, as do the blades, its the bowls that need replacing only. Highly recommended...
  3. after 7 years no 2 are the same I find........nothing is 'normal' in this business - time to reflect at the end of the season..
  4. having problems replying via the forum email & pm system - have pm'd you my private email address, so I can send you further info
  5. We have been under this regime for the last five years as we have other property apart from the 2 gites & B&B, so are classed as professional landlords - works out well for us,as so much can be claimed against expenses,  but it is a lot of work & you need a good accountant .......pm us for more information.
  6. Have heard about the police form requirement, but not enforced in our region...occasionally the gendarmes come by to check we have not seen any Basque separatists....& GdF keep us informed of any fraudsters, escaped convicts, kidnapped children etc in the area. Have never been issued with any police forms or had any info from GdF.  However, we do keep a record of addresses for the invoices to keep accountants happy (think that is just ours...since we had a big tax inspection a couple of years ago, but thats another story) & so I can send guests a Xmas newletter each year.  Good idea to have a note of mobile numbers &/ email addresses for lost property....this year had house keys, passports, clothes, toys etc left behind - in the case of the keys & passports just as well I had the mobile numbers....  The service veterinaire covers not just the obvious veterinary regs, but anything really to do with food & safety in all its forms - bit like the Public Health dept.
  7. Following post copied from another discussion.........all my information is via GdF, but looks like the Douanes issue the licence subject to completing the course & Veterinary Service are involved.  We already have dealings with the Service Veterinaire as we have bees.....   'I've just had a chat with the Maire and a lady from the Tourist Office who advised that all we need to do is make a declaration to the Maire that we are operating as a Table d'Hote/ Chambre d'Hote, then trot down to the Douanes in Clermont Ferrand to apply for a license so serve food and wine, which is free. [/i] They are wrong! The licenses you need are a Licence 1 to serve non alcoholic drinks with breakfast, plus a licence 'grand restauration' to serve drinks/aperitifs with meals. This is free from the Douane but not valid unless you have done the obligatory three day training course provided by UMIH. (www.umihformation.fr) This costs 850 Euros! I've just done it & some of the cost was paid by the Clermont Tourist Office. The course covers lots of things that are irrelevant to Chambres D'Hôtes but also makes you realise your responsibilities. The certificate is valid for ten years and can then be renewed by attending a one day course. You also need to notify the 'Service Veterinaire' and attend a basic hygiene course. The Mairies don't seem to be up to speed with this yet. There was a girl on the course I did who had leased her bar/hotel from the Commune who guided her through the process of opening the bar. During the course the trainer realised that she had been very badly advised & took her to the Douane who confirmed this & immediately closed her down for several weeks. Without the trainer, who knows the Douane Officers, she could also have been facing a large fine. There is also a 'petit restauration' licence, that limits you to serving wine & beer. You still have to do the course & they suggested that this was too much of a minefield because it doesn't include all wines & most aperitifs are excluded. You need the licence 1 for breakfast because it doesn't count as a meal! '
  8. Certainly GdF would not accept a UK certificate, but might be worth a try - maybe someone on here as experience of that??  The course is only required if providing evening meals, does not apply to home baking or any fruit compotes for breakfast......according to my GdF inspector anyway.....  doing bacon & eggs etc is frowned on by GdF in our region, so they would insist on the course under those circumstances.... providing ham etc as part of a breakfast buffet does not need certification....but still need the tea/coffee/juice licence from the Customs office.  If going with GdF they would suggest you do their basic food hygiene course at minimum cost.  Clevacances probably the same - anyone know if that is the case???
  9. Try CDiscount.com (part of Casino group)  for electric goods - have bought a washing machine & tumble dryer from them or nextag.fr as a price comparison site
  10. You can offer a more luxurious breakfast, which from our experience is what is bringing us our regular clientele - a way of getting around the rules, being different from the norm, still doing some cooking & charging a bit more....... you will find that there are still ample opportunities to get to know your guests especially if you offer a reason for them to stay on site through the day & don't restrict them to leaving the premises between 10.30 & 4.30 as some B&B owners are known to do..some days it is hard to get away from the guests without doing evening meals as well....  Picnic areas & a coin cuisine are currently very favourable, especially with French guests, as it means they can shop at the traiteur, bring food with them from home, or enjoy a bottle of wine with some bread & cheese in the garden/on terrace either lunchtime or evening.  Great for families too as it is an easy way of making it more homely & friendly, doesn't involve too much work & which will keep them coming back.  Leaving the occasional afternoon cake in the coin cuisine always goes down well as that little extra touch.
  11. Something of importance to know is that as from this year, newly registered chambres d'hotes owners who wish to offer table d'hotes must attend a hygiene & food safety course - approximate cost 800-900euros.....you may find this cost prohibitive.   I had a long discussion late last year with a newly registered French run B&B in Provence - she is charging top whack for her beautiful rooms & had a successful 1st year, but despite that she had worked out it would take her almost 10 yrs to re-coup the cost of the course...  Those of us already registered only need the alcohol licence, so long as you were already offering t d'h before the cut off date...  Don't forget you will need a basic licence for breakfast - easy to get & free.  Good idea to contact your local GdF & maybe attend one of their seminars where they will give you all the information before you make the decision.  Good luck, its very hard work, but worth it - we are in our 7th year & though very tired by the end of each season it is great to welcome people back year after year - you will make lots of friends.  The work continues through the year but at a different pace - we are currently immersed in the annual decoration project.......
  12. I agree - there is always an overdemand for the school holiday period, but it is the shoulder period which brings in more regulars & dependent on your region as to how long you want this to be.  For us in the Charente, we can always fill the 6 weeks late July, through August, but have another 10weeks which are taken by couples (mainly in the over 50 age group) who want more luxury & a little more space than the standard acccommodation on offer for 2......they tend to come back year after year...OK you charge less, but as a rule they are cleaner, quieter & generate far less wear & tear on property, so I would go for the 3 smaller properties.  Large groups tend to go somewhere different every year, so repeat bookings are rarer (in our experience anyway..)  This year we have 12 weeks booked already in our family gite - 8 of those weeks are couples returning for the 3rd/4th year running....as already mentioned, look around at the competition & what is on offer in your area + realistically how long the season is.  Good luck
  13. This is an independent holiday and clients are strongly recommended to take out adequate holiday insurance cover to provide for full reimbursement in the event of cancellation due to illness and also to provide full cover for the party's personal belongings, public liability, etc, which are not covered by the owners' insurance.   We have the above on our gite booking contract Ts&Cs & I make sure it is on the confirmation email I send out on receiving the deposit.  I have to confess that for B&B bookings I do not have written Ts&Cs just the standard GdF reservation form.  Am reluctant to be more forceful on the subject of insurance as it could put some prospective clients off booking with us, think if I was bookiing a couple of nights B&B & was asked for a copy of my home insurance policy I would probably think 'Oh God - a host with OCD.....'  In over 20 years of staying in French owned properties in France (both before & since we started offering accommodation 7 yrs ago) have never been asked for such a thing & our last trip down south was just 4 months ago - both a gite & several B&Bs.  Interested to see how many of you are more exact in your insurance cover demands.
  14. Have never tried pre cooking the custard....but why not try the 'cheffy' method of overlapping the pastry over the edge of the tin, then trimming the top edge once cooked, level with the baked custard.  Always works & looks very professional.......don't over cook the filling - as already mentioned use a cooler oven for less time & it will be just set & golden....enjoy.....
  15. Have pm'd you with 2 suggestions of places to stay in the region.
  16. we have used them several times now for Screwfix & Lakeland deliveries as well as Tescos & can highly recommend them.  We had them deliver our new neff Double Oven door to door for & even with the delivery charge we saved a fortune on the cost of the same oen in UK.  Thinking about buying our gas hob in UK as well next month. Very efficient service & professional staff.
  17. take a look at coast & country estate agents website & you will see several properties around Mougins for less than a million - OK not right in the old village centre, but around Val du Mougins we have seen some lovely reasonably priced (for the area) villas.  Towards Mouans Sartoux it gets cheaper......
  18. On the subject of where to live, we have an apartment in Mougins & can highly recommend it as a place to live - currently only a second home, but it has everything - great views, fantastic restaurants & shops, good golf courses & excellent transport system - buses are frequent to both Grasse & Cannes, from where you can catch a train to anywhere in the region + for work you have Sophia Antipolis.  Not too busy in the summer ( a haven of peace away from Nice, Cannes etc) & a great place to be off season.  You would be surprised at how reasonably priced some properties are - not everyone lives on a multi-million dollar estate.  Email me for further information.
  19. just bought some bark chips in Casto for just over 3euros/bag
  20. Ignition switch for tractor - quoted price in France 140euros, not in stock, needs ordering, maybe here in a week.  Bought on internet from company in UK, in stock, delivered in 3 days, total cost £15.........
  21. yes think that is one reason why we are having an action replay in our family gite next summer - they all came complaining about the bad weather in UK, raved about how wonderful it was here & went back to more wind & rain......hope many more will come for B&B next year after having a long, wet & probably expensive summer holiday in UK this year. 
  22. For us at the end of our 6th season 2009 has been our best year ever in the gites (fully booked Easter till November) & the family gite is fully booked for July & August 2010 by repeat bookings.  B&B has been a bad year - currently between half & two thirds of our usual income, with almost 80% regular guests.  Only a couple of new British clients this year, rest have been French, Belgians, Dutch, Australian & New Zealanders & Americans.  Have several repeat bookings for summer 2010.  The main difference we have noted this year is that very few people are eating out in restaurants - have made a tenth of the usual number of restaurant bookings for guests & all the restaurants in our region tell me they have had a bad year.  So for us it has been a record year for self-catering, & a bad year for B&B - who knows what 2010 will bring???
  23. Passports buried in the spare blanket pile - left by the same couple who left all their house & office keys in the same place last year.....fortunately this year they kept their mobile on, so was eventually able to let them know so they could rush back...........last year they didn't check their messages till they reached the UK, so were locked out for a few days...otherwise all the usual, knickers, kids toys, books, jewellery.  Most we post back to them, the food & drink we treat as a gift (we live on site..) the books we read...& hopefully if they come back they can collect the following year.
  24. Quillan   New law came in 2 years ago - surprised you missed all the discussions about it.  I think like us you are with GdF - they should have informed you at the time.  In our region it resulted in many of the undeclared/unclassed B&B s which had popped up over the years no longer being in business..... try looking at the lay my hat website for a link to the official 'act'
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